Nebula and Black Rainbows Announce In Search of the Cosmic Tale: Crossing the Galactic Portal Split LP Out June 28; Premiere Nebula’s “Acid Drop”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

nebula black rainbows In Search of the Cosmic Tale Crossing the Galactic Portal

Not that you need one in the first place, but if you would look for an excuse as to what might bring SoCal heavy psychedelic rock forebears Nebula and Italian cosmosblasters Black Rainbows together, both will be on tour in Europe in the coming months, Nebula are well documented heroes of founding Black Rainbows guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori, and the split is listed as #300 in the catalog of Fiori‘s label, Heavy Psych Sounds, which has also stood behind Nebula‘s two post-resurgence LPs, 2022’s Transmission From Mothership Earth (review here) and 2019’s Holy Shit (review here).

Each act contributes three songs for a short but full-length-enough runtime of 32 minutes. Black Rainbows‘ tracks, as noted below, come from the sessions for their latest album, 2023’s Superskull (review here), while Nebula‘s side is newly recorded. Led off by Nebula‘s “Acid Drop” as the first single — it premieres below — the outing has been given the cumbersome title In Search of the Cosmic Tale: Crossing the Galactic Portal, which I have no doubt it has absolutely earned.

And if you’ve already stopped reading at the mention of the premiere below, or you skipped outright to the player, you won’t hear me argue. It’s a pretty straightforward proposition to bring these two together, however winding and/or spaced the course of the actual music may turn out to be, and something of a no-brainer to keep on your radar as summer starts to heat up. Nebula were in Europe last Fall as well, so I don’t know whether they’ll make the return trip to meet up with Black Rainbows at the Heavy Psych Sounds Fests in Germany, but it’s a universe of infinite possibility.

The raw crunch-punk fuckery of “Acid Drop,” with its blown-out vocals and swirling jam into the fade, follows on the player below. Beyond that, the PR wire takes over.

Dig if you dig:

Nebula, “Acid Drop” track premiere

HPS300 – NEBULA / BLACK RAINBOWS – In Search Of The Cosmic Tale: Crossing The Galactic Portal

There’s not much to add, two of the greatest Heavy Psych bands of the scene join the forces to give birth to an incredible Split Album.

Packed with 32 minutes of the highest quality heavy rock you can find out there; a joint venture which can happen only once every 100 years!!

Heavy Psych king-pioneers Nebula bring to life three brand new songs, recorded expressly for this incredible project. Three new gems which follow their latest “Holy Shit” and “Transmission….”

Black Rainbows add in three songs of their own, handpicked from the recording session of their latest success “Superskull”, released back in 2023. Delivering two Stoner in-your-face Heavy Fuzz pieces and one Heavy Space tune to celebrate this awesome collaboration!!

The cover art pairs perfectly with the vision and vibe of the album and is credited to the mighty Simon Berndt.

1. Acid Drop
2. Eye of the Storm
3. Ceasar XXXIV

Recorded at “High Desert Sound Studios “ Spring Equinox 2024.
Produced and Mixed by Nebula
Mastered by Claudio Pisi Gruer at Pisi Studio 

Eddie Glass : Guitars, Vocals, Drums
Ranch Sironi : Bass, Vocals, Mix Down
Warzone Speedwolf : Drums 

1. The Secret
2. Thunder Lights on the Greatest Sky
3. Dogs of War

Recorded 11-12-13 May 2022 at Forward Studio, Rome, Italy by Fabio Sforza and Andrea Secchi
Vocals, Synths, Overdubs Recorded in November and December 2022
At Forward Studios and Channel 5 Studio by Andrea Secchi and Gabriele Fiori
Mixed and Engineered by Fabio Sforza
Mastered by Claudio Pisi Gruer at Pisi Studio
All Songs, Music and Lyrics written by Gabriele Fiori

Gabriele Fiori — Guitars & Vocals
Edoardo “Mancio” Mancini — Bass
Filippo Ragazzoni — Drums

BLACK RAINBOWS European shows 2024
03.05 – Barcelona (SP) 62 Club
04.05 – Vidiago (SP) Vidiago Rock Fest
07.06 – Winterthur (CH) Gaswerk – Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
14.06 – Genova (ITA) TBA
28.06 – Clisson (FR) Hellfest
29.06 Passau (DE) Blackdoor Fest
13.07 – Trieste (IT) TBA
10.08 – Bagnes (CH) Palp Fest
12/13.10 – Berlin (DE) Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
27/28.10 – Dresden (DE) Heavy Psych Sounds Fest

NEBULA European Tour 2024
SU. 09.06.24 IT ***OPEN SLOT***
FR. 14.06.24 DE ***OPEN SLOT***
SA. 22.06.24 FR ***OPEN SLOT***
WE. 03.07.24 UK ***OPEN SLOT***

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Slower Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 4th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

It’s something of a surprise to see Slower touring. The Slayer covers project helmed by guitarist Bob Balch released its self-titled debut (review here) through Heavy Psych Sounds earlier this year, and even then, the lineup was broadly cast enough to make live performances seem less likely. In addition to BalchAmy Tung Barrysmith and Esben Willems — who will be the on-stage incarnation of the band — the album also featured Peder Bergstrand (Lowrider), Laura Pleasants (ex-Kylesa) and Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obsessed, etc.), so you might be forgiven if the possibility of Slower as a touring entity didn’t occur to you either.

And certainly not even among the three players heading out, no one’s lacking for goings on. Balch is about to release a new Fu Manchu album this Spring, Barrysmith recently finished recording the next Year of the Cobra (awaited), and Willems put out his first-ever solo LP like a week ago. Oh, you’re gonna go tour with a completely different band playing rearranged thrash songs in Europe? Yeah, cool. I mean, if you’re not busy or anything.

The prospect is no less badass for being unexpected, however, and if this is a testing of waters for more to come and Slower will be ongoing, so much the better. Between the three of them, they could get up there and do “Wheels on the Bus” and it’d be heavy. I’ll look forward to the video that hopefully someone at a show gets.

Doomstar Bookings posted the following:

Slower euro tour

Slower announce their European Tour 2024! Check out all dates below!

Tickets are on sale via

Slower states: “Everything in this project just fell into place naturally, even though none of us really knew what to expect going in, other than being inspired by the idea. Now that the album has become reality, it feels like a given to get these songs on the road. Cannot wait to play them live, this one is gonna be a blast.”

11.08.24 – Gothenburg (SE) – Musikens Hus
11.09/24 – Copenhagen (DK) – BETA
11.10.24 – Berlin (DE) – Cassiopeia
11.11.24 – Dresden (DE) – Chemiefabrik
11.12.24 – Vienna (AT) – Arena
11.13.24 – Munich (DE) – Feierwerk
11.14.24 – Essen (DE) – Turock
11.15.24 – Haarlem (NL) – Patronaat
11.16.24 – Paris (FR) – Backstage
11.17.24 – Hamburg (DE) – Headcrash

SLOWER live lineup:
Esben Willems (drums) MONOLORD
Amy Barrysmith (vocals) YEAR OF THE COBRA
Bob Balch (guitars) FU MANCHU

Slower, Slower (2024)

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Album Review: Early Moods, A Sinner’s Past

Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

early moods a sinner's past

Part of what has been exciting about L.A. County classic doom metallers Early Moods over the last few years is the potential for how they might develop as a new generation’s spearhead in engaging the style. A Sinner’s Past is their second LP through RidingEasy Records behind 2022’s self-titled debut (review here) and their 2020 debut EP, Spellbound (review here), and it follows suit with their prior work in being in immediate conversation with the doom of yore. Somewhere, swimming a vault of Black Sabbath bootlegs like some doom-riffing Scrooge McDuck, Leif Edling is smiling. Candlemass have been a guiding presence for Early Moods since their outset, but as the five-piece of vocalist Alberto Alcaraz (also keys), guitarists Eddie Andrade and Oscar Hernandez (lead), bassist Elix Feliciano and drummer Chris Flores specifically tap “Samarithan” for the verses of “The Apparition,” even the command and confidence with which they’re doing so comes across as continued progression.

But across its CD-era-vibing 49-minute runtime and eight component tracks, A Sinner’s Past is about more than saluting genre heroes. Early Moods had already begun the process of internalizing root influences like the aforementioned Candlemass and various eras of Sabbath, and in the way the punchy bass and steady nod that begins opening cut “Last Hour” gives over right about halfway into its 5:41 to gallop, swing and shred, they not only foreshadow tempo shifts to come like that in the reaches of the eight-minute “Hell’s Odyssey,” penultimate to closer “Soul Sorcery” on side B, but offer a first look at the grim recesses in which their tones will dwell throughout and the expanded scope and intentions heard throughout in “Unhinged Spirit,” with its acoustic intro leading to a procession that lumbers until it careens, or the harsher vocal moments in “Blood Offerings” and “Walpurguise” calling out to the metal of the 1980s without ignoring the 40 years since.

Relative youth as compared to much of the current sphere of doom is still an advantage Early Moods enjoy, and A Sinner’s Past is still rife with the energy of a young band exploring their sound and style, but they also have a better idea of what they want in both of those than they did two years ago, and that comes through as well as “Blood Offerings” trades the Candlemassian poise for a more dug-in, Pentagram-style shove — at least until the screams come (get it? anybody? no? moving on.) — with all due grit and groove, and the title-track makes even the entry of Flores‘ speedy hi-hat at 4:09 as they transition from the initial plod and dudes-running-in-a-circle mosh through the circa-’75 Iommic solo section and into the chugging build-up to the faster culmination, another solo thrown in for good measure before they cap with the riff. That they would cover that kind of ground on their second album isn’t a huge surprise — they’ve proven at this point able to keep their collective head as songwriters through various changes of mood, tempo and melody within their doomly trajectory; they’re a good band and that’s a thing good bands can do when they want to — but that they’d do it with such clear purpose and still convey an overarching atmosphere through those changes is an aspect of A Sinner’s Past that’s demonstrative of their growth as a unit, and it’s not at all the only one.

early moods (Photo by Mike Wuthrich)

The production, helmed by Allen Falcon at Birdcage Studios in Pico Rivera, finds the more cavernous veneer of the first album traded for an in-your-face aural crunch that’s modern in the separation of the instruments but allows a sense of live performance to come through, whether it’s at the dirge pace of “The Apparition,” the midtempo nods of “Unhinged Spirit” and “Walpurguise” or the plod-into-swing of “Soul Sorcery.” While still resonant in their homage to the doom of eld, Early Moods are beginning to cast genre in their image, and the most vital moments of A Sinner’s Past are in the weight of a drag, the coursing tension of their faster movements, and how each plays off the other. They are becoming more dynamic — no doubt the not-minor amount of touring they’ve done in the last year-plus is a piece of this and will continue to be — and stronger for that.

That’s worth appreciating, to be sure, but if your experience of “Hell’s Odyssey” is more about the journey being undertaken and less about how skillfully it retains its impact amid the faster delivery early on — the answer for that, if you’re curious, is the same as nearly always: the bass — and moves into NWOBHM harmonized leads from Andrade and Hernandez before the latter launches into the solo in earnest, I don’t think you’re wrong. Part of the appeal of Early Moods as an emergent revamp of traditionalist doom is the familiar that’s to be found within the new, in aesthetic terms. I don’t think they’ve done their best work as a band yet, but A Sinner’s Past gives more than a few hints of where they’re headed, and the forward potential in their work is no less prevalent for what they’ve achieved in these songs.

You can overthink it if you want — clearly I’m a fan of that approach in any number of contexts — but the material is composed and executed in such a way that, if you want to nod out and let the groove carry you from “Last Hour” to “Soul Sorcery,” there’s nothing in that span that’s going to pull you out of the moment, and for that alone, A Sinner’s Past is a substantial offering. They’ve been on their way to headlining pretty much since the word go, and seem to be motivated toward those ends, toward making an impact on doom and influencing those who inevitably will follow in their wake, but whatever their future might or might not bring, the sense of an idea conceived and realized across A Sinner’s Past is palpable and so is the artistic growth within and around that. If it does turn out to be their most significant contribution to doom — if the band ended tomorrow and cut short all that potential and blah blah blah — you wouldn’t be able to listen to this record and say they didn’t give everything they had to it.

Early Moods, “A Sinner’s Past” official video

Early Moods, A Sinner’s Past (2024)

Early Moods

Early Moods on Instagram

Early Moods on Facebook

Early Moods on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records on Instagram

RidingEasy Records on Facebook

RidingEasy Records store

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Vitskär Süden Set May 17 Release for Vessel LP; “Vengeance Speaks” Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 14th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The first single from the third Vitskär Süden full-length, which is called Vessel, is the opening track “Vengeance Speaks,” unveiled the other day by the PR wire with the album’s announcement and streaming below. A space initially left open in the song amid ambient strings and the not-quite-standalone-but-definitely-a-focal-point vocals of Martin Garner — somewhere between Patrick Walker of Warning and David Eugene Edwards in his delivery — give focus ahead of a layer of non-lyric guest singing, a layered heavier chug and droning hum. It finds a flow of its own and is unhurried and progressive in kind. Given what the L.A.-based post-whatnot troupe had on offer with 2022’s The Faceless King (review here), one doubts this or any other cut among the seven included speaks for the record’s entirety — the word is ‘breadth’ — but at very least they’re giving the listener an opportunity to familiarize theirself with its initial immersion.

May 17 is the release date, and Vessel will be out through Ripple Music, which has preorders up and info to share about the making and intent behind it. I believe them when they talk about branching out in terms of arrangement and style, not the least because this too is something “Vengeance Speaks” manifests. They sound like they sweated out the details.

Approach with patience. The song is only five minutes long, but its depth of mix makes it feel bigger, and it’s best heard on its own level:

Vitskär Süden vessel

Los Angeles dark folk and progressive rock unit VITSKÄR SÜDEN to issue new album “Vessel” on Ripple Music this May; stream new single “Vengeance Speaks”.

Vitskär Süden announce the release of their third studio album “Vessel” on May 17th through Californian label Ripple Music. Stream the hypnotic debut single “Vengeance Speaks” on all streaming platforms now!

The opening track of Vitskär Süden’s new album “Vessel” begins with plaintive vocals and a solitary guitar. Hear our plea. Show your presence… “It’s essentially a prayer to the Elder Gods,” says vocalist Martin Garner. “‘Save us from ourselves.’ It’s stark. I’m exposed in a way I haven’t been vocally in our music before, but I wanted the despair of the text to come through. As the song progresses, this character who’s been begging for salvation begins to call for fire, wrath and revenge, and the build the guys created musically really illustrates that.”

The band’s first foray into live strings, “Vengeance Speaks” offers cellist Max Mueller and violinist Emily Moore adding heft and scope, as well as a soaring vocal solo by Kristi Merideth. “With dark angels descending from the heavens lyrically we needed a female voice in play to paint the full picture,” says Garner. “Kristi improvised this amazing solo in a couple of takes. We all heard it for the first time when we were mixing the record in Austin and our jaws were on the floor.”

Vitskär Süden’s new album “Vessel” contemplates the fragility of human life in the form of a weird fiction collection of sorts. From post-apocalyptic, rain-soaked forests and sunken Lovecraftian cities to turbulent seas and marshy battlefields, the record guides listeners through portals to seven distinctive soundscapes. They expand their sonic arsenal with the additions of strings, synth and electronic elements, leaning further into progressive rock territory while remaining singularly themselves all the while. “Sonically we wanted to go further with what we started in The Faceless King, using different instrumentation, more synths, piano, and strings,” says guitarist Julian Goldberger. “I think we all wanted to stretch out a bit and lean into the atmosphere and vibe that was emerging from these dark tales.”

The album continues the band’s collaboration with co-producer/mixer Don Cento and also features guest appearances from cellist Max Mueller, violinist Emily Moore and pianist Rich Martin as well as vocalists Kristi Merideth and Isabel Beyoso.

VITSKÄR SÜDEN – New album “Vessel”
Out May 17th on Ripple Music (vinyl/CD/digital)

International preorder:

US preorder:

1. Vengeance Speaks
2. R’lyeh
3. Through Tunnels They Move
4. Hidden By The Day
5. Tattered Sails
6. Everyone, All Alone
7. Elegy

Vitskär Süden is:
Martin Garner – Bass/Vocals
Julian Goldberger – Guitar/Synths
Christopher Martin – Drums
TJ Webber – Guitar

Vitskär Süden, Vessel (2024)

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Ruben Romano to Release …Twenty Graves Per Mile on Desert Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 12th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

That was quick. Ruben Romano — he of The Freeks who did stoner rock the first time around drumming for the earliest incarnations of Fu Manchu and Nebula — released his Western-themed instrumental solo album, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile (review here), digitally just last month, and in addition to the limited tape that Northern Haze was putting out (I think that’s still happening?), Desert Records has picked up Romano for what one assumes will be the CD and LP editions.

No word on a release date, as the announcement below is pretty preliminary, but there’s no reason to think such a thing couldn’t manifest by the Fall, schedules permitting. Either way, …Twenty Graves Per Mile is streaming now should you like to embark on its cross-prairie course, classic in its Americana sprawl and sun-baked psychedelic reach. It streams at the bottom of this post. I know you know this. I don’t know why I feel compelled to say it all the time. Gonna go punch myself or whatever.

The following comes from Desert Records‘ and Romano‘s social media:

ruben romano desert records signing

The DR roster is growing…


Ruben Romano is southern Cali desert rock royalty. Current drummer/guitarist of The Freeks and former founder/drummer of Fu Manchu and Nebula!!!

We are stoked and honored to have Ruben on board to help him release his solo album – The imaginary soundtrack to the imaginary western ‘Twenty Graves Per Mile.’ Cinematic spaghetti western/desert rock at its finest.

Says Romano: ‘A Super Huge “THANKS” to @desertrecords for having some faith in my musical efforts and letting me join their family! They will soon be releasing; “The imaginary soundtrack to the imaginary western,’ Twenty Graves Per Mile” my little audio homage to Great Frontiersmen, Westward Expansion and an Ode to Oxen. Please Check them out, their catalog is so diverse, as wide as the Great Plains and deep as all the deserts combined, ranging from the darkest of doom to the vast echoes of reverb. I am beyond elated!’

More news coming soon…

Ruben Romano, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile (2024)

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Mario Lalli & the Rubber Snake Charmers Premiere “Swamp Cooler Reality” from Folklore From the Other Desert Cities

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 12th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

mario lalli and the rubber snake charmers folklore from the other desert cities

Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers hit Australia in the company of Stöner in Fall 2022, and their debut full-length, Folklore From the Other Desert Cities, was recorded on Sunday, Nov. 5 at Mo’s Desert Clubhouse. The show was featured on a streaming series called ‘Desert TV’ the audio issued on notably-limited cassette through Northern Haze before the band — spearheaded of course by namesake Mario Lalli, of Fatso Jetson, Yawning Man, etc. — signed on to release it March 29 through Heavy Psych Sounds. There are differences from the set video/live tape to the four-song/38-minute Folklore — some editing to let it flow as an album and shape songs, the mix/master from Mathias Schneeberger, etc. — and the result is an engrossing, sometimes lush, sometimes spacious, exploration of desert psychedelics. Lalli himself holds down bass in place of Nick Oliveri, who’d have been on the tour as part of Stöner but for visa issues as frontman/lead-poet Sean Wheeler informs at one point while introducing the band, and Brant Bjork and Ryan Güt, both also of Stöner, rounded out the lineup on guitar and drums, respectively.

I was lucky enough to see the semi-conjoined outfits together in Sept. 2022 (review here) before they headed Down Under, and the setup was much the same. That night, it was Lalli, Wheeler and all three members of Stöner on stage to jam, hypnotize, reach into the ether and give Wheeler‘s desert-punk bohème proclamations the textural setting they deserve. The Rubber Snake Charmers took the stage first and Stöner closed out. Super-casual. And the who-knows-where-we-might-end-up-but-let’s-go approach of the project that was so vivid that night in Jersey resonates in the loose sway and swing throughout Folklore From the Other Desert Cities, which transitions mid-jam between “Creosote Breeze” and “Swamp Cooler Reality” (note the video for the latter premiering below), mid-lyric between “Other Desert Cities” and “The Devil Waits for Me,” and puts its side flip between two standalone spoken lines from Wheeler. Clearly the intention is that the album should be taken as a whole — said the dude premiering a single track; I take what I can get — and it has more than enough fluidity between its two sides to support that experience. You can get lost in it, and I’m not about to tell you that you shouldn’t.

Some crowd noise at the outset of “Creosote Breeze” places you in the room, but a humming e-bow guitar and underlying drone silence most of the conversation. Güt gives a quick cymbal wash and they shift to a meditative riff laid out by Lalli as their true launch point. What unfurls from there does so with a chemistry that shouldn’t shock anyone familiar with the players involved — Bjork and Lalli‘s storied history in the Californian desert scene, Güt‘s near-decade drumming with Bjork between Stöner and Bjork‘s solo band, and Wheeler‘s long involvement with the Palm Springs weirdo underground in fronting Throw Rag, and so on — but they’re not so much riding pedigree here as they are pushing themselves outward, and that’s the whole point. This record, this amorphous band, wouldn’t exist without the creative passion that so clearly fuels it. The chance to tap something not yet known and see what you can make. That first riff in “Creosote Breeze” is almost surprising with a kind of brooding vibe, but they open it up cosmic and are funky long before the eight-plus minutes allotted to the track are done.


Schneeberger is credited with keys, and as the band settles into a roll before the guitar steps back circa 6:40 to let Wheeler start his next spoken recitation — he weaves back and forth between singing and spoken word, and it’s not always perfect and that’s why it works — they seem indeed to be dubbed in as part of the molten wash, but that feels fair enough for Folklore From the Other Desert Cities being based on a live set and presented as the band’s debut album. It’s not supposed to be easy to categorize outside of itself. You might say that’s how ‘desert rock’ happened in the first place; it wasn’t already another thing. “Creosote Breeze” entrances and “Swamp Cooler Reality,” mid-groove at its outset, finds its own way to build on that movement. Standout lines from Wheeler give impressionistic visions in rhythm as Bjork clicks on the wah and the drive gets accordingly funkier. They’ll mellow out a few minutes later, as one would expect, but that’s fleshed out with synth or other effects and some self-gathering-style meander comes together around the bass and drums to an open but satisfying finish of its own, “Other Desert Cities” kicking in either immediately or after the platter flip, depending how you’re listening.

But the vibe is set and the this-night incarnation of Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers carry it through to the finish of “The Devil Waits for Me,” Wheeler steering them into a desert-themed take on the blues classic “In the Pines” that allows for no sleep whatsoever. The longer-form trip they’re on in terms of the whole set has plenty of space for that kind of thing, but it’s not like they’re doing a cover or something — it’s the immediate pursuit of inspiration and the moment captured in the recording. A thing that happened that day. A short while later, in “The Devil Waits for Me,” they seem to purposefully submerge in volume, fuzz and the underlying earthy groove, but not before the whole Gold Coast crowd gets invited back to L.A. for what one assumes would be a party worth the requisite travel.

If you didn’t see them on the tour that produced Folklore From the Other Desert Cities, the recording represents well the untethered spirit that seems to be at heart in Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers and expands on it in how the material is delivered structurally and sonically. At the same time it’s their debut, it’s also right in its moment, and by it’s very nature, whatever Lalli and not-necessarily-the-same-company do next will likewise stand on its own. What one wonders is if how much Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers appreciate that they themselves are part of the folklore they’re portraying, even in this new form and modus, just by getting together and weirding out. Hasn’t that always been the idea?

Enjoy the video for “Swamp Cooler Reality” below, followed by more info from the PR wire:

Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers, “Swamp Cooler Reality” premiere

The first release from this band of pioneering Desert rock musicians captures the band and its purest form exercising the desert born ethic and approach of rock improvisation, psychedelic and flowing, heavy and explorative.

1. Creosote Breeze
2. Swamp Cooler Reality
3. Other Desert Cities
4. The Devil Waits For Me

Recorded live at Mo’s Desert Clubhouse, Gold Coast Australia by Guy Cooper and mixed and mastered by Mathias Schneeberger at Donner & Blitzen Studios, California. The band’s first release features BRANT BJORK, SEAN WHEELER, RYAN GUT and MARIO LALLI, capturing the band in a engaging special performance in Gold Coast Australia.

The album will be issued on March 29th on vinyl, CD and digital via Heavy Psych Sounds. Enjoy!

Mario Lalli – bass and vocal
Sean Wheeler – vocals and poetry
Brant Bjork – Guitar
Ryan Güt – Drums
Mathias Schneeberger – keys

Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers, Folklore From the Other Desert Cities (2024)

Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers on Facebook

Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

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Quarterly Review: Deadpeach, SÂVER, Ruben Romano, Kosmodrom, The Endless, Our Maddest Edges, Saint Omen, Samsara Joyride, That Ship Has Sailed, Spiral Guru

Posted in Reviews on February 28th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Welcome to Wednesday of the Quarterly Review. If you’ve been here before — and I do this at least four times a year, so maybe you have and maybe you haven’t — I’m glad you’re back, and if not, I’m glad you’re here at all. These things are always an undertaking, and in a vacuum, I’m pretty sure busting out 10 shorter reviews per day would be a reasonably efficient process. I don’t live in a vacuum. I live vacuuming.

Metaphorically, at least. Looking around the room, it’s pretty obvious ‘vacuum life’ is intermittent.

Today we hit the halfway mark of this standard-operating-procedure QR, and we’ll get to 30 of the 50 releases to be covered by the time Friday is done or die trying, as that’s also the general policy. As always, I hope you find something in this batch of 10 that you dig. Doesn’t have to be any more of a thing than that. Doesn’t need to change your life, just maybe take the moment you’re in and make it a little better.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Deadpeach, The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race

Deadpeach The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race

A new full-length from Italian cosmic fuzz rockers Deadpeach doesn’t come along every day. Though the four-piece here comprised of guitarist/vocalist Giovanni Giovannini, guitarist Daniele Bartoli, bassist Mrsteveman and drummer Federico Tebaldi trace their beginnings back to 1993, the seven-song/37-minute exploration The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race is just their fourth full-length in that span of 31 years, following behind 2013’s Aurum (review here), though they haven’t been completely absent in that time, with the 2019 unplugged offering Waiting for Federico session (review here), 2022’s Live at Sidro Club, etc. But whether it’s the howling-into-the-void guitar over the methodical toms in the experimental-vibing closer “Loop (Set the Control to Mother Earth),” the mellower intro of “Madras” that leads both to chunky-style chug and the parade of classic-heavy buzz that is “Motor Peach,” what most comes through is the freedom of the band to do what they want in the psychedelic sphere. “Man on the Hill (The Fisherman and the Farmer)” tells its tale with blues rock swing while the subsequent “Cerchio” resolves Beatlesian with bouncy string and horn sounds and is its own realization at the center of the procession before the languid roll of “Monday” (so it goes) picks up its tempo later on. A mostly lo-fi recording still creates an atmosphere, and Deadpeach represent who they are in the weirdo space grunge of “Rust,” toying with influences from a desert that’s surely somewhere on another planet before “Loop (Set the Controls for Mother Earth)” turns repetition into mantra. They might be underrated forever, but Deadpeach only phase into our dimension intermittently and it’s worth appreciating them while they’re here.

Deadpeach on Facebook

Deadpeach website

SÂVER, From Ember and Rust

SAVER From Ember and Rust

In or out of post-metal and the aggressive end of atmospheric sludge, there are few bands currently active who deliver with the visceral force of Oslo’s SÂVER. From Ember and Rust is the second LP from the three-piece of Ole Ulvik Rokseth (guitar), Markus Støle (drums) and Ole Christian Helstad (bass/vocals), and while it signals growth in the synthy meditation worked into “I, Evaporate” after the lead-with-nod opener “Formless,” and the intentionally overwhelming djent chug that pays off the penultimate “The Object,” it is the consuming nature of the 43-minute entirety that is most striking, dynamic in its sprawl and thoughtful in arrangement both within and between its songs — the way the drone starts “Eliminate Distance” and returns to lull the listener momentarily out of consciousness before the bassy start of centerpiece “Ember and Rust” prompts a return ahead of its daring and successful clean vocal foray. That’s a departure, contextually speaking, but noteworthy even as “Primal One” lumbersmashes anything resembling hope to teeny tiny bits, leaving room in its seven minutes to catchy its breath amid grooving proggy chug and bringing back the melodic singing. As much as they revel in the caustic, there’s serenity in the catharsis of “All in Disarray” at the album’s conclusion, and as much as SÂVER are destructive, they’re cognizant of the world they’re building as part of that.

SÂVER on Facebook

Pelagic Records website

Ruben Romano, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile

Ruben Romano The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile

Departing from the heavy psychedelic blues rock proffered by his main outfit The Freeks, multi-instrumentalist and elsewhere-vocalist Ruben Romano — who also drummed for Fu Manchu and Nebula in their initial incarnations — digs into Western aural themes on his cumbersomely-titled solo debut, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile. To be clear, there is no movie called Twenty Graves Per Mile (yet), and the twice-over-imaginary nature of the concept lets Romano meander a bit in pieces like “Sweet Dream Cowboy” and “Ode to Fallen Oxen,” the latter of which tops its rambling groove with a line of delay twang, while “Chuck Wagon Sorrow” shimmers with outward simplicity with a sneaky depth to its mix (to wit, the space in “Not Any More”). At 10 songs and 27 minutes, the collection isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘feature length,’ but as it hearkens back to the outset with “Load the Wagon (Reprise)” bookending the opener, it is likewise cohesive in style and creative in arrangement, with Romano bringing in various shakers, mouth harp, effects and so on to create his ‘soundtrack’ with a classic Western feel and the inevitable lysergic current. Not as indie or desert chic as Spindrift, who work from a similar idea, but organic and just-came-in-covered-with-dust folkish just the same. If the movie existed, I’d be interested to know which of these tracks would play in the saloon.

Ruben Romano on Facebook

Ruben Romano on Bandcamp

Kosmodrom, Welcome to Reality

Kosmodrom Welcome to Reality

With the seven-minute “Earth Blues” left off the vinyl for want of room, German heavy psychedelic instrumentalists Kosmodrom put a color filter on existence with Welcome to Reality as much as on the cover, shimmering in “Dazed in Space” with a King Buffalo‘ed resonance such that the later, crunchier fuzz roll of “Evil Knievel” feels like a departure. While the three-piece are no doubt rooted in jams, Welcome to Reality presents finished works, following a clear plot in the 10-minute “Quintfrequenz” and the gradual build across the first couple minutes of “Landstreicher” — an intent that comes more into focus a short while later on “Novembersong” — before “Earth Blues” brings a big, pointed slowdown. They cap with “OM,” which probably isn’t named after the band but can be said to give hints in their direction if you want to count its use of ride cymbal at the core of its own build, and which in its last 40 seconds still manages to find another level of heft apparently kept in reserve all along. Well played. As their first LP since 2018, Welcome to Reality feels a bit like it’s reintroducing the band, and in listening, seems most of all to encourage the listener to look at the world around them in a different, maybe more hopeful way.

Kosmodrom on Facebook

Kosmodrom on Bandcamp

The Endless, The Endless

the endless the endless

Heads experienced in post-metal will be able to pick out elements like the Russian Circles gallop in The Endless‘ “Riven” or the Isis-style break the Edmonton-based instrumental unit veers into on “Shadows/Wolves” at the center of their self-titled debut, but as “The Hadeon Eon” — the title of which references the planet’s earliest and most volatile geological era — subtly invites the listener to consider, this is the band’s first recorded output. Formed in 2019, derailed and reconstructed post-pandemic, the four-piece of guitarists Teddy Palmer and Eddy Keyes, bassist James Palmer and drummer Jarred Muir are coherent in their stylistic intent, but not so committed to genre tenets as to forego the sweeter pleasure of the standalone guitar at the start of the nine-minute “Reflection,” soon enough subsumed though it is by the spacious lurch that follows. There and throughout, the band follow a course somewhere between post-metal and atmospheric sludge, and the punch of low end in “Future Archives,” the volume trades between loud and quiet stretches bring a sense of the ephemeral as well as the ethereal, adding character without sacrificing impact in the contrast. Their lack of pretense will be an asset as they continue to develop.

The Endless on Facebook

The Endless on Bandcamp

Our Maddest Edges, Peculiar Spells

Our Maddest Edges Peculiar Spells

Kudos if you can keep up with the shifts wrought from track to track on Our Maddest Edges‘ apparent first long-player, Peculiar Spells, as the Baltimorean solo-project spearheaded by Jeff Conner sets out on a journey of genuine eclecticism, bringing The Beatles and Queens of the Stone Age stylistically together and also featuring one of the several included duets on “Swirl Cone,” some grunge strum in “Hella Fucky” after the remake-your-life spoken/ambient intro “Thoughts Can Change,” a choral burst at the beginning of the spoken-word-over-jazz “Slugs,” which of course seems to be about screwing, as well as the string-laced acoustic-led sentimentality on “Red Giant,” the Casio beat behind the bright guitar plucks of “Frozen Season,” the full-tone riffs around which “I Ain’t Done” and “St. Lascivious” are built, and the sax included with the boogie of “The Totalitarian Tiptoe,” just for a few examples of the places its 12 component tracks go in their readily-consumable 37-minute runtime. Along with Conner are a reported 17 guests appearing throughout, among them Stefanie Zaenker (ex-Caustic Casanova). Info is sparse on the band and Conner‘s work more broadly, but his history in the punkish Eat Your Neighbors accounts for some of the post-hardcore at root here, and his own vocals (as opposed to those of the seven other singers appearing) seem to come from somewhere similar. Relatively quick listen, but not a minor undertaking.

Jeff Conner on Bandcamp

Saint Omen, Death Unto My Enemy

saint omen death unto my enemy

Rolling out with the ambient intro before beginning its semi-Electric Wizardly slog in “Taken by the Black,” Death Unto My Enemy is the 2023 debut from New York City’s Saint Omen. Issued by Forbidden Place Records, its gritty nod holds together even as “Evolution of the Demon” threatens to fall apart, samples filling out the spaces not occupied by vocals, communicating themes dark, violent, and occult in pieces like the catchy-despite-its-harsher-vocal “Destroyer” or the dark swirl of “Sinners Crawl.” Feeling darker as it moves through its 10 songs, it saves a particular grim experimentalism for closer “Descent,” but by the time Death Unto My Enemy gets there, surely your mind and soul have already been poisoned and reaped, respectively, by “The Seventh Gate,” “The Black Mass” and the penultimate title-track, that deeper down is the only place left to go. So that’s where you go; a humming abyss of anti-noise. Manhattan has never been a epicenter of cultish doom, but Saint Omen‘s abiding death worship and bleakness — looking at you, “Sleepness” — shift between dramaturge and dug-in lumber, and the balance is only intriguing for the rawness with which it is delivered, harsher in its purpose than sound, but still plenty harsh in sound.

Saint Omen on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records store

Samsara Joyride, The Subtle and the Dense

samsara joyride the subtle and the dense

The psychedelic aspects of Samsara Joyride‘s The Subtle and the Dense feel somewhat compartmentalized, but that’s not necessarily a detriment to the songs, as the solo that tops the drearily moderated tempo of “Too Many Preachers” or the pastoral tones that accompany the bluesier spirit of “Who Tells the Story” emphasize. The Austrian outfit’s second full-length, The Subtle and the Dense seems aware of its varied persona, but whether it’s the swaggering stops of “No One is Free” calling to mind Child or the sax and guest vocals that mark such a turn with “Safe and Sound” at the end, Samsara Joyride are firm in their belief that because something is bluesy or classic doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be simple. From the layer of acoustic guitar worked into opener “I Won’t Sign Pt. 1” — their first album also had a two-parter, the second one follows directly here as track two — to the gang chorus worked in amid the atmospheric reach of “Sliver,” Samsara Joyride communicate a progressive take on traditionalist aesthetics, managing as few in this end of the heavy music realm ever do to avoid burly masculine caricature in the process. For that alone, easily worth the time to listen.

Samsara Joyride on Facebook

Samsara Joyride on Bandcamp

That Ship Has Sailed, Kingdom of Nothing

that ship has sailed kingdom of nothing

Like a check-in from some alternate-universe version of Fu Manchu who stuck closer to their beginnings in punk and hardcore, Californian heavy noise rockers That Ship Has Sailed tap volatility and riffy groove alike through the five songs of their Kingdom of Nothing EP, with an admirable lack of bullshit included within that net-zero assessment amid the physical push of riffs like “One-Legged Dog” or “Iron Eagle II” when the drums go to half-time behind the guitar and bass. It’s not all turn-of-the-century disaffection and ‘members of’ taglines though as “Iron Eagle II” sludges through its finish and “I Am, Yeah” becomes an inadvertent anthem for those who’ve never quite been able to keep their shit together, “Sweet Journey” becomes a melodic highlight while fostering the heaviest crash, and “Ready to Go” hits like a prequel to Nebula‘s trip down the stoner rock highway. Catchy in spite of its outward fuckall (or at least fuckmost), Kingdom of Nothing is more relatable than friendly or accessible, which feels about right. It’s cool guys. I never got my shit together either.

That Ship Has Sailed on Instagram

That Ship Has Sailed on Bandcamp

Spiral Guru, Silenced Voices

Spiral Guru Silenced Voices

The fourth EP in the 10-year history of Brazi’s Spiral Guru, who also released their Void long-player in 2019 and the “The Fantastic Hollow Man” single in 2021, Silenced Voices is distinguished immediately by the vocal command and range of Andrea Ruocco, and I’d suspect that if you’re already familiar with the band, you probably know that. Ruocco‘s voice, in its almost operatic use of breath to reach higher notes, carries some element of melodic metal’s grandeur, but Samuel Pedrosa‘s fuzz riffing and the fluid roll of bassist José Ribeiro and drummer Alexandre H.G. Garcia on the title-track avoid that trap readily, ending up somewhere between blues, psych, and ’70s swing on “Caves and Graves” but kept modern in the atmosphere fostered by Pedrosa‘s lead guitar. Another high-quality South American band ignored by the gringo-dude-dominant underground of Europe and the US? Probably, but I’m guilty too a decade after Spiral Guru‘s start, so all I can say is I’m doing my best out here. This band should probably be on Nuclear Blast by now. Stick around for “The Cabin Man” and you’d best be ready to dance.

Spiral Guru on Facebook

Spiral Guru on Bandcamp

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Snail Announce Thou Art There Live Album Out March 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 28th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

This will be a thing I’ll enjoy owning. The Obelisk All-Dayer was an event I put together starting in 2015 for Aug. 20, 2016. It was held at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. Heavy Temple and King Buffalo opened. Mars Red Sky headlined. Death Alley (now defunct), Kings Destroy and also-disbanded Ohio proggers EYE featured, and it was with a particular personal joy that Snail agreed to make the trek from their respective homes in Washington and Southern California to make their first East Coast appearance(s), playing Boston and Rhode Island as they made their way south to NYC.

I had been lucky enough to see Snail previously, on a 2010 trip to San Francisco (review here), where I also met the then-four-piece-now-trio for the first time, and I could gladly go on about how rad that was, but the bottom line is that even asking Snail to play was something I was doing as a fan of the band, and as they had released their stunning Feral (review here) LP in 2015, the timing couldn’t have been better.

It’s humbling to think it was special for them too. Most of all, I’m glad it happened and I’ll be glad to have this as a document of it. It’s digital-only for now, but I bet you could convince them to make some tapes if the downloads do well enough. We’ll see. Either way, I’m grateful it exists and for the kind thoughts the band express below.

Maybe 2026? I’ll think about it. For now, two tracks from Thou Art There are streaming below to mark the launch of preorders and the band’s 2021 LP, Fractal Altar (review here), is down there too in order to facilitate further digging.

So by all means, dig:

snail thou art there

It was early Spring of 2016, and Snail had just come off the long-awaited release of Feral, when they got an email from JJ Koczan of the heavy psych blog The Obelisk. JJ was putting together a festival called ‘The Obelisk All-Dayer’ and wanted to know if they would be into playing. Without a second thought they were on board; this was destined to be a gathering of the tribes that no one wanted to miss!

Fans and bands came from all over – as far away as France – to play and be a part of it. This was Snail’s first tour on the East Coast, and the welcome couldn’t have been warmer. After playing shows in Boston and Rhode Island, Snail arrived at the club, devoured the catered veggie tacos and began meeting fans that they had only interacted with online. Everyone was so genuinely nice and positive, the music was HEAVY, and the energy in the club and city was electric.

Snail was exhilarated being on stage and playing for what felt like their “people.” Having loosened up with previous shows, they was now firing on all cylinders and vibing off the crowd. Seeing JJ head-banging in the front when the riff dropped for set closer ‘Thou Art That’ was like attaining heavy-music realization and the entire room resonated together.

So if you were there, we hope this recording puts you right back to that day and lives up to the memory. And if you weren’t, this is a chance to check out what all the fuss was about.
Thou Art There.

1. Blood (Live) 06:49
2. Cleanliness (Live)
3. Smoke the Deathless (Live)
4. Confessions (Live) 03:06
5. Mustard Seed (Live)
6. Hippy Crack (Live)
7. Mental Models (Live)
8. Thou Art That (Live)

Front of house engineer – Jeff Filmer
Mixing and mastering – Matt Lynch

Cover photo – Adam Donnelly
Additional cover image – Jennifer Hendrix-Johnson
Cover design – Matt Lynch

Snail are:
Marty Dodson – drums
Mark Johnson – guitar, vocals
Matt Lynch – bass, organ, vocals

Snail, Thou Art There: Live at The Obelisk All-Dayer (2024)

Snail, Fractal Altar (2021)

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